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Intercostal Nerve Block

What is an Intercostal Nerve Block?


Intercostal Nerve Block is a procedure which may be 

used for treatment and sometimes diagnosis of various painful conditions of the chest, upper/mid back, and flank.  This is commonly used for treatment of :


  • Shingles

  • Postherpetic Neuralgia

  • Pain from chest wall surgeries

  • Pain after rib fractures

Intercostal Nerve Blocks are performed by using ultrasound or CT scan to guide a thin needle to an area beneath the lower lip of a rib in order to inject anesthetic medication and steroid. This serves to block painful signals carried by the Intercostal Nerves.  This may involve several repeats of these nerve blocks on later occasions to provide varying degrees of permanent relief.


How are Intercostal Nerve Blocks Performed?

You will be lying comfortably face down on a treatment

or operating room table.  The skin over the area of 

injection will be anesthetized with local anesthetic.

A CT scanner or ultrasound scanner will be used to visualize the area under the rib where the nerve is located. CT or ultrasound will be used to safely guide the needle to the correct position and the solution of anesthetic and steroid will be injected around the nerve. Onset of painrelief should be rapid. 

Are Intercostal Nerve Blocks Safe?

In the hands of an experienced Interventional Pain Management physician this is a very safe procedure.

With ultrasound or especially CT scan guidance it is

much safer, as the lung which lies below the rib can be


Will The Procedure Be Painful?

No, the skin and shallow muscle below are numbed by an injection of local anesthetic, and pain should then be

minimal.  The procedure typically takes only a few

minutes to perform.

Intercostal Nerve Block



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